Should you find yourself sampling the varied cuisine in Europe, you’ll quickly discover how different it tastes from food in the United States. The key to this difference lies in the regulations surrounding food production and additives.
The European Union adheres to stringent laws that regulate food production, right from the farm and the plate. Contrarily, in the US, the food industry essentially regulates itself under the auspices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, making it difficult to outlaw potentially harmful substances from our food.
However, change is on the horizon, notably in California, which has started to contemplate laws to eliminate certain hazardous chemical additives from food. The state has now become the first in America to introduce legislation barring the use of four additives linked to a range of illnesses including cancer.
The California Food Safety Act restricts the manufacture, distribution, and sale of food and beverages containing brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye 3. Though these additives can be found in an array of items, including candy and fruit juices, advocates of the law assure that customer-favorite products won’t suddenly become absent from store shelves. Instead, companies will be required to adjust their recipes to include healthier alternatives.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, who approved this law, assures residents they will still enjoy their favorite food products with greater assurance of their safety. To be fully enacted by 2027, the legislation offers companies ample time to adapt and rid their products of these harmful substances.
Despite raising health concerns, these additives continue to be allowable by the Food and Drug Administration. For instance, red dye 3 was banned in cosmetics in 1990 owing to links with cancer in lab animals yet it’s still used in food. Brominated vegetable oil and potassium bromate are believed to negatively impact the respiratory and nervous systems, while propylparaben could harm reproductive health.
Critics often target the legislation with incorrect claims, like the alleged ban of Skittles in California. However, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, the bill’s sponsor, clarified that Skittles are available in the European Union, which has already implemented an identical ban.
Gabriel decried that the US is lagging behind global food safety standards but recognises that this law necessitates only minor recipe changes from food companies. He further noted that in addition to the European Union, countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan have also banned these additives. Moreover, he highlighted how leading brands including Coke, Pepsi, Dunkin’, and Panera have already started phasing these additives out of their products voluntarily.